We’re definitely in a pickle and we are going to need boat loads of innovative thinking to get us out. We look to our leaders for guidance, positivity and some inkling that a plan is afoot which will begin to make a dent in the problem. Alas there is very little forthcoming, thus far at any rate.

Now there’s lateral thinking which we all believe will be employed by the Obama administration and there is quadrilateral thinking which is what we’ve been getting here i.e. nothing is in parallel to anything else, too many angles are represented with the sum total amounting to 360 degrees to get us right back to where we started from.

So as far as I can see it’s up to ourselves. And not being constrained or shackled by party politics or chief whips we are free to devise a new strategy. Right now the country craves ideas, here’s a few.

Now in the wake of the excess of the Celtic Tiger we all need to rediscover our humility and reignite our spiritual lives. Religion is no longer so nineteen eighties. To this end a lot of people will choose to make the pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick in Mayo this summer. It’s a great and unique tradition. This year we need to make it compulsory. And I don’t mean just for everyone living here, I’m talking about the diaspora. There are fifty million Irish passport holders all over the world. I want every last one of them at the foot of Croagh Patrick in July ready to bleed for the cause. Grand so far but you’re thinking how is it going to spin a few quid? Sponsorship. If each of the fifty million can generate a paltry €50 in sponsorship that equates to €2.5 billion just like that. Deduct expenses such as printing sponsorship cards etc. and we can still walk away with serious money. Now factor in the impact of fifty million zealots descending en masse on the local economy. By my calculations the VAT from the sale of rosary beads alone would pay ministerial transport costs for a week.

Why not, instead of going about things in the time honoured, unpopular and sneaky way like raising taxes and implementing cutbacks, the government just came clean and appealed to the compassion in all of us? I am itching for a chance to take one for the team and I’m sure you’re the same.

There are approximately one million smokers in the country, consuming an average of twenty a day. A pack of twenty cigarettes is now about €8.00. How about all of these people abstain for just one week and donate the savings to the exchequer. By my reckoning that’s about €56 000 000.00. Now when you deduct the taxes that would have gone into the coffers if those people had just continued smoking you are still looking at a profit of around €25 000 000.00. Now take it one step further and distribute sponsorship cards to those participating in the smokeout and the sky’s the limit. An improvement in public health is a beneficial side effect of this plan.

How about getting every male in the country over the age of eighteen to start growing a beard? Sponsorship could be procured from a range of sources and for every week of growth a contribution would be due. Beards would only to be shaved off when national debt falls to 5% of GNP or the growth rate rises for two consecutive quarters or Britain elects a black prime minister, whichever happens first. The people are thus incentivised; we feel we have a hand in our own destiny. No one would want to have to wear an uncomfortable, unsightly beard for any longer than was absolutely necessary and would therefore work ceaselessly to get to a point where it can legitimately be shaved off. Economists would devise colourful graphs plotting national beard growth alongside GDP growth, they would appear on Prime Time to spot and analyse trends. Good for €1 billion I reckon.

We all know that Lidl is cheap but some of us mystifyingly continue to shop elsewhere. Well let’s force everyone to shop exclusively at Lidl for a month and pass on the savings to Brian Lenihan. The timing of such an initiative could not be better as we desperately need ways to re build goodwill in Europe and this would surely illicit a few brownie points from Queen Angela of Bavaria. The earnings here are not easy to calculate in that you will have lost VAT on sales and some redundancies at the other stores but over a month you are surely looking at €50 000 000.00, not to mention getting the Chancellor back on side. You can’t put a price on that.

After last week there are a lot of super skilled technology types in Limerick on the lookout for an opportunity. Well here it is. We have a warehouse full of electronic voting machines which, the consensus is, will never be used. I think it would be well within the compass of someone who used to build micro chips to get into the guts of these things, rework a bit of software here, a bit of circuitry there, solder on the appropriate pipe work and before you know it you have a kidney dialysis machine. The benefits here are obvious and threefold – people are kept off the live register, we avoid any more storage costs for the bloody things and the HSE gets a fleet of badly needed hardware for next to nothing as the initial capital expense has long since been swallowed up by some departmental budget or other. I’m going to err on the low side here and suggest possible savings of €30 000 000.00.

These plans don’t need Oireachtas sub committees or public accounts committees or any involvement whatsoever from on high. We don’t need to produce green or white or any other kinds of papers. Nothing needs to be painstakingly translated into Irish. There is no need to siphon any precious time from the good people at the Department of Trade, Enterprise & Employment.

I’ve done all the legwork. These babies are good to go. I can take care of everything, soup to nuts, with a reasonable deduction off the top for “administrative” expenses. I will of course need reliable transport to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch. That 08 Mercedes E350 that the Taoiseach can’t even bring himself to look at never mind ride around in would suffice, I suppose.

Now feel free to put the wheels in motion yourself. You would buy a ticket for a dinner dance, the proceeds of which were going to send someone seriously ill to Lourdes, wouldn’t you? Well our country is terminal so get off your ass and let’s put together the biggest benefit night we’ve ever seen.

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